Technological Determinism

Document Sample
Technological Determinism Powered By Docstoc
					Technological Determinism - Technological determinism: technology is autonomous and has a strong influence on society - Autonomy, control and prediction - Three types of technological determinism: o Normative account (representative, Jurgen Habermas): “Technology can be considered autonomous and deterministic when the norms by which it is advanced are removed from political and ethical discourse and when goals of efficiency and productivity become surrogates for value-based debate over methods, alternatives, means and ends.” o Nomological account (representative Peter Van Inwagen): “… in light of the past (and current) state of technological development and the laws of nature, there is only one possible future course of social change. This might mean that various technological processes, once begun, require forms of organization or commitments of political resources, regardless of their social desirability or of previous social practices.” o Unintended Consequences account (representative, Langdon Winner): “For example, the early proponents of the automobile who argued that it would be environmentally cleaner than the old mode of transportation because it would rid the streets of horse manure did not foresee the environmental destruction that exhaust from the internal combustion engine would bring. This dramatic unintended consequence of the new technology emerged unsought and uncontrolled.” Bimber: technological determinism. beyond human control (deterministic), focused on technology (technological) Normative and unintended consequences accounts not forms of technological determinism

Conclusions and Concerns - Strong definition of technological determinism - Technological determinism compatible with multiple forms of government, restricts political development Technological Momentum - Social construction of … - Networks or systems of technology as unit of analysis, electrical utilities - Technological determinists: technology, urbanization, Fordism, work time, demographic changes - Social constructivists: population increases and new regulatory structures and technology - “Evolving technological systems are time dependant.” - Investment in: o Time, money, resources, skills, knowledge, capital, tools o “…acquired skill and knowledge, special-purpose machines and processes, enormous physical structures, and organizational bureaucracy”


o Reluctance to switch Technological systems become more deterministic over time